Providing Online Biology Students with Hands-On Lab Experience

by Carolina Distance Learning Staff

Professor Lauren Roberts has been teaching college-level biological sciences for more than a decade.

Horry-Georgetown Technical College began offering fully online sections of Biology 102 in the fall of 2023. That addition provided another means of access for students majoring in biology, nursing, and other allied health programs. Long before the first students enrolled, however, Roberts and her colleagues were busy developing an online lab program for the course. Three essential criteria for their efforts were (1) finding labs appropriate for the course content, (2) selecting hands-on labs as much as possible, and (3) staying within their student-friendly budget. They found exactly what they needed and more in the robust library of distance learning lab kits from Carolina Distance Learning®.

Using the Carolina Distance Learning® website, Professor Roberts readily identified labs that aligned with the course curriculum, noting that “Carolina made it easy to design the perfect lab kit for this course and provide hands-on lab experiments that enhance student learning.”

The website displays the total cost per kit as items are added or removed. This was another essential aspect for Roberts, who was determined to keep student costs within a set budget. “It was great to be able to confidently build a kit that was within our budget” she recalls. Roberts noted that it took only minutes to build a kit on the Carolina Distance Learning® website, in contrast to the days or weeks of back-and-forth required by other providers.

Professor Roberts is also grateful for Carolina Distance Learning’s outstanding customer support. “They often respond within one hour when I send them a question or request,” she says, “and they help my students and I with whatever is needed.” Good customer support was something else that Roberts found lacking in other providers.

In the fall of 2023, Roberts taught two inaugural online sections of Biology 102. The labs included investigations on microbes, fungi, histology, human anatomy, urinary physiology, mammalian dissections, and more. Students tell her they find the labs interesting and fun—even their families enjoy watching an experiment unfold!

Professor Roberts happily reports that the new online course and hands-on lab program are going smoothly. The well-chosen labs help students achieve good course outcomes and build laboratory skills for their future careers. Students also find the Carolina Online Gateway resources intuitive and enriching for their course and lab learning.

Roberts is thrilled to be able to give distance-learning students the opportunity to perform real-world, hands-on labs. She says she would highly recommend Carolina Distance Learning® lab kits to other educators and will definitely turn to them for future online biology classes.

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